Apple Watch, abilities will expand over time, replace car keys as well
In a new interview with the UK newspaper the Telegraph, Apple CEO Tim Cook has revealed a few new tidbits about the forthcoming Apple Watch, as well as some of the larger vision behind such innovations as the watch, and Apple Pay, and Touch ID -- an all-out attempt to reduce the ephemera people need to carry with them, from wallets to car keys. In the same report, Cook also confirmed that Apple will "tweak" its retail look to accommodate Apple Watch buyers, who are likely to be even more upscale than average Apple customers.
Customers can walk in, provide phone number, and be summoned to the store
According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, the latest changes to Apple retail by Angela Ahrendts is coming to stores soon. Most Apple retail stores will shift walk-in Genius Bar appointment notifications to one using customers' mobile phones as de facto pagers, not only giving time estimates for a service window, but also informing customers that an availability is opening up allowing users to shop elsewhere in a mall, rather than waiting for sometimes hours in the store.
Google adds medical details to Knowledge Graph
Google has updated its Knowledge Graph, used to provide extra details in search results for common subjects, with health-related information. Vetted by a team of doctors at Google and the Mayo Clinic for accuracy, the new cards will bring up details for common health conditions, including symptoms, treatments, commonality, if it is contagious, and other relevant points, along with illustrations for some conditions.
Asian version of US ad plays to Chinese market, gift-giving season
Apple has created a new version of its holiday ad "The Song" for the Chinese market in time for the Lunar New Year celebrations, which commence later this month. The wholly-reimagined ad is prominently featured on the company's China website, and is the first such ad made directly for China. Senior VP of Retail Dame Angela Ahrendts has made China a priority over the next two years as it emerges as Apple's third-largest market.
Executive instrumental to expansion of Apple retail chain
Apple's VP of Retail Real Estate, Bob Bridger, will soon be retiring from the company, sources say. Bridger reportedly revealed the information at a meeting last Thursday, without mentioning any special reasons for leaving. The executive is noted to be the last major Retail division executive from the era when Ron Johnson led the group, and Steve Jobs was still company CEO.
Brooklyn and Manhattan locations running behind schedule
Apple is preparing to open two stores in previously-untapped urban markets. The first is in the Chinese city of Tianjin, and will be debuting this Saturday at 10AM local time. The other is in the New York City borough of Queens; sources say the shop will open later this year on the second floor of the Queens Center Mall. One of the sources claims that the outlet will be Apple's biggest inside a New York mall, and that the company expects revenues to top high-profile locations elsewhere in the state.
To be used for gold models only
Some Apple Stores are already being equipped with custom safes in order to store the gold Edition models of the forthcomng Apple Watch, sources say. It's thought that the safes will be used to protect both for-sale inventory and any demo units, the latter of which will have to be removed from the showfloor overnight. Because demo hardware will have to stay fully charged, the safes are said to have MagSafe chargers mounted inside.
Flagship product gets pushed beyond rumored window
The Apple Watch will ultimately ship in April, the company has confirmed through a quarterly results call hosted by CEO Tim Cook and CFO Luca Maestri. The company didn't go into any other details, such as a specific release date. April, however, is even later than the March timeframe mentioned in recent rumors, which themselves suggested a delay from February. Until now Apple has only ever promised an "early 2015" date.
Second in city will be standalone, offer Shanghai-like cylinder shape
Following in the footsteps of recent murals that "drape" under-construction standalone stores (such as the one that covered the recently-opened Hangzhou store), Apple has created another mural to cover the cylinder-shaped forthcoming Chongqing store, which is set to open this Saturday. The new location, the second for the city, will be the third of five store openings in China promised by the company before the arrival of the New Year on February 19.
First of five new Chinese Apple Stores to open before Lunar New Year
A new Apple store based on its latest two-story designs (as seen in San Francisco and elsewhere) has opened in Hangzhou, China. As is typical for such openings, lines of enthusiasts trailed around the block to experience Asia's largest and latest Apple Store, the second in a series of five that will open around China by the start of the official Chinese New Year on Thursday, February 19. The first new store was opened in Zhengzhou earlier this month to similar acclaim and excitement.
Chipperfield was VP of Digital and Interactive Design, now on 'Special Projects'
Apple has once again lured a top executive from UK fashion retailer Burberry: following the hiring a year ago of former CEO Dame Angela Ahrendts, the company has brought in former Vice President of Digital and Interactive Design Chester Chipperfield from Burberry to work with the "Special Projects" group at Apple, which is likely to involve the forthcoming Apple Watch. The company also recently hired one of Burberry's social media executives, Musa Tariq, as it continues to build a team of expert fashion merchandisers.
Outlet arriving January 24th
Apple has posted a new video on its Chinese retail site, highlighting a mural covering the company's yet-to-be-opened Hangzhou outlet. The mural features a poem written about the city some 2,000 years ago. For Apple, the text was repainted by modern calligrapher Wang Dongling. The shop is due to open this Saturday, January 24.
Entered into 'definitive agreements to provide additional near-term liquidity'
Venerable tech retailer RadioShack released its fiscal Q3 numbers to the US Securities and Exchange Commission this month. The report includes information about what RadioShack describes as a "prolonged downturn in our business" and predictions about its liquidity if efforts to restructure its debt don't go through by February 2, the last day of Q4 for RadioShack's current fiscal year.
Visual trickery designed to catch attention, increase interest in iPads
A good magic trick, even in the 21st century, will still get people to stop and watch and try to figure out how it is done. Over the weekend, Apple retail stores around the US debuted a new window display showcasing the company's iPad line and Smart Cover accessory on a thin tabletop that features a line of the products, with the Smart Cover opening and closing itself to demonstrate the magnetic latch feature that wakes or sleeps the machine automatically.
Should trigger alerts via companies' iOS apps
Marsh Supermarkets and inMarket have announced a new iBeacon platform, the first to emphasize the Apple Watch. The plan is to use iBeacons at Marsh's 75 locations to push ads, shopping lists, and other content to both Watches and iPhones. Initially, the platform will support the official Marsh app and inMarket's List Ease, but other apps should follow as long as they support inMarket's Proximity SDK. All apps will have to update with Watch support, but the platform itself is Watch-ready.
Workers take wraps off of long-hidden location
As reported last summer, Apple's next store in Chongqing, China, will feature a smaller glass cylinder nevertheless mimicking the design of the company's flagship outlet in Shanghai, photos show. Construction workers this week dismantled a steel structure that was concealing the 30-foot-tall cylinder, which in turn tops a staircase leading to the actual store. Another similarity with Shanghai is that the Chongqing store is based in a plaza, and surrounded by taller structures.
'Extensive' retail training lined up for February
The Apple Watch will miss a previously-rumored launch date and instead ship by the end of March, sources say. Although Apple has only ever officially stated an "early 2015" window, some rumors had suggested Apple was aiming for a February date, possibly by Valentine's Day. Even then, it was often believed that Apple was likely to overshoot its goal.
Gallery of Mac- and iOS-created photos, drawings expands from online to retail stores
Less than a week after having expanded its "Start Something New" campaign from its Japanese site to the US and most other global Apple sites, the company has begun adding some of the pictures from its curated collection of artwork made on Macs or iOS devices to selected retail stores. The campaign focuses once again on how users use the products to enhance their own lives, but this time focuses on active productivity in the form of artwork creation. Photographs, drawings and videos dominate the collection.
Bag contents at least twice value of initial cost
Apple has sold out of the 2015 edition of its annual "Lucky Bag" promotion, in which its Japanese stores sell bags containing surprise goods worth more than their initial price tag. This year's bags cost 36,000 yen (about $300) each, but held products worth anywhere between $640 and $1,280. Each one had a "big" surprise, along with an Apple TV, Beats Powerbeats2 wireless earbuds, a New Year's edition of a Mophie power station, and a 1,000-yen iTunes gift card. All of the items were secured in Incase Icon Slim Pack backpacks.
Restaurant chain will eat losses if banks do not compensate customers for any breach
A rash of credit and debit card fraud cases have been tracked back to accounts that were all used at various Chick-Fil-A locations around the US. The fast food restaurant joins the ranks of retailers with point of sale security issues. This particular breach appears to have run from December of 2013 to September of 2014.
Cites Supreme Court decision that security screenings are not part of job
Apple has won in a pair of lawsuits lodged in the summer of 2013 by disgruntled employees that charged the company with a form of "wage theft" by not paying workers while they were being checked during mandatory security and loss-prevention screenings. Citing a Supreme Court decision in a similar case, Federal Court Judge William Alsop ruled that such screenings are not "integral and indispensable" parts of the retail workers' jobs, therefore the plaintiffs were not entitled to compensation for the time spent in such activities.
Stores to open early, offer paid 'grab bags' that could be worth thousands
Apple Japan will begin its traditional promotion for Japanese retail buyers, known as Fukubukuro or "Lucky Bags," starting on January 2, the company has announced. The promotion involves customers buying one of several "grab bag" gift boxes for a set price -- last year it was about 36,000 yen, or roughly $300 in current US dollars -- that could contain very valuable gifts, and usually at least top the value of the list price. Some of the boxes contained iPads or MacBook Airs, for example.
'Let peace begin with me' offered as a resonant theme to current turmoil
A new post from Apple Retail Senior Vice President (SVP) Dame Angela Ahrendts on her LinkedIn blog offers a simple holiday message and song with a theme of peace, saying her message for the season was simply "let peace begin with me." Ahrendts said she was inspired by a recent re-hearing of a song she used to play on piano, a rendition of "Let There Be Peace on Earth" by B.J. Thomas. The song, originally written by Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller in 1955, offers an inspirational message of unity.
Malware on point of sale systems mirrors earlier Home Depot, Target attacks
An intrusion into Staples' point-of-sales systems earlier this year put 1.16 million credit and debit cards at risk, the retailer admitted on Friday. Approximately 115 of the company's 1,400 retail stores across the United States were affected by malware on its systems, though the store apparently managed to eradicate the malware and improve system security in mid-September.
May complicate troubleshooting in affected locations
As they have in the past, some Apple Stores are repurposing their Genius Bars to accommodate holiday sales, a report notes. The spaces may be used for things such as pick-up service, or extra room for products. Conversions are only happening as dictated by individual stores' needs and shopping traffic, and Geniuses should still be around, whether walking the floor or at tables in front of the Bars.
Options still missing from Apple online orders
People wanting to take advantage of Sprint's Easy Pay or iPhone for Life financing and leasing options should soon be able to do it at an Apple Store, a report says. Training is currently said to be underway, and some stores may in fact be ready to process the plans today. Neither option is available through Apple's website, but previously shoppers angling for an iPhone or iPad purchase under one of the two plans had to order from a Sprint company store or reseller.
Reason behind disappearance still uncertain
Bose products have returned to Apple's online store and retail chain, reports say. These include products like the SoundLink III and SoundLink Mini speakers, and the QuietComfort 20i earbuds. Bose hardware vanished from the online store on October 17, and went missing from retail around the same time or shortly thereafter.
Williamsburg Apple Store expected to debut in April
Apple is in the process of establishing a research and development facility in Japan, according to the country's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. The disclosure was made in a campaign speech ahead of Sunday's general election. Abe didn't offer any more details except to say it should be "formally announced soon," and rank with Apple's largest R&D centers in Asia. The company has been establishing new offices across the world in the past couple of years, growing R&D beyond the confines of its Cupertino-area headquarters.
Brussels outlet may find home on Gulden-Vlieslaan
Apple has started hiring for its first store in Belgium, reports note. The company has opened up six job listings, all for an outlet in Brussels. These include experts, Geniuses, and various business-facing staff.
iPhone still a minor brand in region
Although no first-party stores are expected anytime soon, Apple is nevertheless engaging in a major retail expansion in India, according to a Times of India source. In coming months, the company is expected to help establish 500 new resellers, particularly in smaller cities such as Amritsar, Pathankot, Moga, Coimbatore, Trichy, Nagpur, and Nasik. At the moment, Apple's strength is in bigger cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, and Chennai -- but even then it's a relatively marginal brand in the country, albeit one that has recently experienced significant growth.
Berlin, London, Tokyo getting related events same week
Apple has announced a series of hour-long US programming workshops meant to support Code.org's Hour of Code, and Computer Science Education Week, which runs from December 8-14. The workshops themselves are being held at Apple Stores on December 11, aimed at teaching children the basics of writing code. Parents must registerfor a spot through Apple's website.
Low stock could be contributing to looming financial collapse
RadioShack outlets across the US are suffering from extremely low iPhone stock, despite the critical holiday shopping season, according to Seeking Alpha. Most models aren't on shelves, and in many cases stores lack any iPhones to speak of, forcing people to use a "Ship to Store" option that takes several days. RadioShack doesn't sell the iPhone on its website, which simply directs iPhone shoppers to physical outlets.
Apple CEO may still be in DC area, sources say
[Updated with Portland store revamp] As a part of the company's World AIDS Day promotions yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook made a surprise visit to the Georgetown Apple Store in Washington, DC. He posted photos of the event on Twitter, which also show him meeting with Deborah Dugan, the CEO of the Global Fund. In a tweet of her own, Dugan thanks Apple for feeding over $75 million to The Global Fund since 2006, through specially-branded accessories and iPods. Apple doesn't offer Product (RED)-branded Macs, iPhones, or iPads, though it did produce a one-off (RED) Mac Pro in 2013.
Raises awareness alongside 'Apps for (RED)' promotion
Following a promotional push to raise money for the Global Fund, using the "Apps for (RED)" even on the App Store to offer discounted prices or in-app purchases to help fund the fight against AIDs and other diseases, Apple on Monday tinted many of its iconic signs at its retail locations red to commemorate World AIDS Day, which is held every year on December 1. The tradition began in 2012 after Tim Cook became the CEO of the company, and follows precedents established by others since at least 1991.
Proceeds from participating apps being donated to Global Fund
To mark the upcoming World AIDS Day on December 1, Apple has launched a trio of initiatives. On the 1st itself, Apple says it will donate "a portion" of its Black Friday sales at its online and retail stores to the Global Fund, which is mainly dedicated to combating AIDS but also tackles diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. On November 28, some random product purchases will include a Product (RED) iTunes gift card; any purchases made with the card in future will go to the Fund. From today through December 7, a program called "Apps for (RED)" will donate the sales from 24 iOS apps - and in some cases, special in-app purchases -- to the same cause.
Pre-ordering breakfast, early Xmas shopping included in 'magical' checkout experiences
Rich DeMuro, a tech reporter for Los Angeles TV station KTLA, met up with Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue for a televised segment that aired Monday night, showing the two men shopping around town for various items and paying for them with Apple Pay. The spree, which took place in Santa Monica, included pre-ordering and paying for breakfast from Panera Bread using the app before the men even arrived at the restaurant, and later buying items from various retailers, including the Apple Store.
Clerks expected to ditch lanyards
Apple is planning some minor changes at its retail stores in preparation for the holiday season, sources say. One of these includes dressing clerks in red holiday shirts. A permanent adjustment, though, will involve removing neck lanyards from the standard uniform; to compensate for the lack of ID, clerks will reportedly be asked to introduce themselves more often.
Handful of grocery chains supporting platform so far
Winn-Dixie and sibling grocery chain Bi-Lo have started accepting Apple Pay, accounts say. Both are based in the southeastern US, in states such as Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. There are over 500 Winn-Dixie outlets, and more than 800 Bi-Lo locations. With the new additions, there are still only five grocery chains in the US that support Apple Pay; the others include Meijer, Wegmans, and Whole Foods.
All 1,400 US locations ready, retailer says
Business supply chain Staples has begun accepting Apple Pay at all of its 1,400 US retail locations, according to an announcement. Retail shoppers must have an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. The company has also begun accepting Apple Pay through its iOS app, however, where people with an iPad Air 2 or iPad mini 3 can also make purchases.
EMV tech becoming standard in US by end of 2015
Retail payment service Square has opened up preorders for a new version of the Square Reader, designed to scan chip-based credit and debit cards. It supports older stripe-based cards as well, and the company is promising end-to-end encryption, as well as active tamper detection. It's compatible with iOS and Android, requiring only the appropriate apps and an account with Square for paying service fees.
Budget retailer to host three short-term 'events'
Walmart will be including Apple products in three different US Black Friday sales "events," the retailer has announced. The first event, actually scheduled for November 27 starting at 6PM local time, will include a 16GB non-Retina first-gen Wi-Fi iPad mini for $199 ($50 less than Apple's price), bundled with a $30 gift card. Customers also be able to buy a set of Beats Wireless headphones for $149, $130 below normal retail price.
Location could include store, office space
Apple has leased a major portion of the Broadway Trade Center in downtown Los Angeles, a new rumor claims. The building measures 1.1 million square feet, and currently has several shops on the ground floor and a manufacturer above. Apple has allegedly signed a lease for "several hundred thousand" square feet; the rumor, from an anonymous source, further suggests that Apple may turn the building into miniature campus with offices, residences, and an Apple Store. A portion of the campus might even be dedicated to selling Beats products.
Store could be intended to attract Belgian shoppers
Apple is preparing a new store in Lille, France which, barring unusual delays, should open in November, reports say. A black construction facade with the company's logo has been spotted on Rue Faidherbe; such barricades usually go up in the last few weeks before a store opening. The shop should span two floors, and take up slightly over 15,000 square feet.
Deal in-store only
As a part of a November 8 promotional event, the US branch of Best Buy will be giving away gift cards with purchases of an iPad Air or MacBook Air. Buyers of a first- or second-generation iPad Air will get a $50 card; the card value jumps to $100 when buying a MacBook. Shoppers must go to "select" retail outlets to qualify.
Could trigger retail war
(Updated with news of CurrentC hack) Retailers partnering with MCX on the upcoming CurrentC mobile payment system are contractually obligated to use CurrentC exclusively, according to the New York Times. Several of the retailers say that if they break their contracts, there are steep fines in place. This will block several popular payment platforms, namely Apple Pay, Softcard, and Google Wallet.
Company admits to sagging iTunes music sales
Apple's 2014 10-K filing, just published by the Securities and Exchange Commission, shows major increases in acquisitions and research spending. Even excluding its $3 billion Beats takeover, the company still managed to increase acquisition spending from $496 million to $957 million during the last fiscal year. Annual research and development spending has more than doubled during the past three years, rising from $2.4 billion to $6 billion.
Claims public, business response to service 'overwhelmingly positive'
Apple has issued a formal response to CVS and Rite Aid blocking Apple Pay at their stores. "The feedback we are getting from customers and retailers about Apple Pay is overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic," the company says. "We are working to get as many merchants as possible to support this convenient, secure and private payment option for consumers. Many retailers have already seen the benefits and are delighting their customers at over 220,000 locations."
Service would help shoppers make better decisions about online purchases
Former Apple retail chief Ron Johnson, along with his former Apple colleague Jerry McDougal and former Apple creative director Tom Suiter have teamed up in a new retail-oriented startup endeavor called Enjoy, promising to help consumers spend more wisely instead of just aiming for the cheapest price. The company, which launches next year, will help consumers make smarter choices on buying, such as educating shoppers on the finer points of a camera to promote the best overall value.
Argues China will become company's biggest market
As part of his trip to China, Apple CEO Tim Cook has told local media that the company is planning to open 25 stores in Greater China during the next two years. "Greater" China includes not just mainland China but Hong Kong and Taiwan. So far there are no Apple Stores in Taiwan, but there are three in Hong Kong and a dozen on the mainland, most of those being split between Beijing and Shanghai.
Option temporarily restricted to Wi-Fi models
Shoppers at Apple's online store now have the option of selecting Personal Pickup as a delivery option for the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. When preorders opened last Friday, the company required all orders to be shipped. Notably, some stores are listed as having iPads ready for pickup today, even though Apple Store workers are saying they won't have tablets on sale until later this week, or even next week. Shipped orders are beginning to arrive on doorsteps however.